Here’s some recent news about the real estate markets in China. I think it is fascinating watching how these things unfold. This proves once again that the lesson of history is that we don’t learn the lessons of history.
I predicted over 2 years ago that the Chinese stock markets would implode dramatically, much to everybody’s disbelief and skepticism. It began a few months sooner than I thought, but, that is exactly what has happened. Now for the last year or so, I have predicted that things will get VERY bad in the Chinese real estate markets over the next several years. Again, most people I have talked to about this (especially Chinese) have almost universally dismissed this notion as absurd.
But this is not just a guess. When you read these articles, you will see just some of the evidence that leads me to this conclusion. There are a lot of data on this, and most of it comes from statistics issued by various Chinese government agencies. But it is not advertised by the mainland press or TV. So, many Chinese are not at all aware, and think that everything will soon be wonderful, because that is pretty much what they constantly hear from the official media.
That is one thing I noticed immediately about China: there is a constant barrage everywhere you turn—-TV, advertisements, magazines, newspapers, billboards, etc.—-that essentially suggests that everything is wonderful and getting more wonderful all the time, and everybody is just happy, happy, happy, and China is getting better and better and stronger and stronger. I was really struck by this. It was like living in a never-ending infomercial. Maybe some go to China and are not very aware of this, but to me it was like a constant din.
Actually, at least some of this data is readily available on the mainland. But it requires digging. The official news agencies like Xinhua and the People’s Daily just keep repeating the same mindless mantra in endlessly varying ways every day: “Everything is good, there are only a few small little problems, but the Motherland is unstoppable and
In the accompanying presentation, it is easy to see why Bill Gross’ PIMCO is highly bullish on credit of any variety. As the table below demonstrates, taken straight out of the biggest bond fund’s May 2009 presentation “Investing for the Journey and the Destination: What it means across the Capital Structure” PIMCO doesn’t see any overvalued instruments in the credit realm: MBS, IG, EM and HY/Loans all have wonderfully green and positive metrics in the valuation column. As for products, while PIMCO believes that fundamentals, technicals, valuations and policy support are all “positive” exclusively for Mortgage Backed Securities, in essence this is merely window dressing for justifying to investors (and the SEC) that after every 7 am conversation with Tim Geithner, in which the latter tells Bill that he will buy yet another $20-30 billion in MBS that week, that PIMCO will be frontrunning the taxpayers in purchasing a boatload of Fannie 30 Years.
Yet with all the greenery, following the recent collapse in mortgages, and the explosion of the 30 Yr – 10 Yr UST spread, Bill may reconsider changing some of the exuberant optimism. To wit: Mr Gross may want to learn about such credit phenomena as cumulative losses and loss severities: both of which may precipitate some of the greenery into shrinkage. As Zero Hedge pointed out earlier, assuming 10 cent recoveries on upcoming defaults, the extrapolated cumulative losses could be dramatic: up to 50% of HY names may end up in default (of course that is backing into an estimate based on market trading levels of HY12). But even at half this loss level, the case will end up being that 1 out of 4 names will pay at most 2-3 bi annual coupons before payments stop, and the hot potato will have to find the most gullible investor. Of course with over a trillion notional in all possible credit instruments, PIMCO will perpetuate the “all is great” fallacy for as long as possible because as much as it tries, there is simply not a fool with a large enough balance sheet to purchase all of Gross increasingly distressed securities.
At the end of the day it’s still earnings that matter most. As the expectation ratio has shown, the stock market has remained resilient primarily due to the fact that expectations for earnings have become very low and more corporations are outperforming the low hurdles. But a look under the hood has shed some light on the true strength of these earnings. We’ve seen a common trend of late. Companies are missing top line estimates and handily beating bottom line estimates. The two most recent examples of this phenomenon were RIMM and FedEx. 72% of the S&P 500 reported revenues that were lower than the same quarter last year. As corporations shed workers and other costs they’re actually able to outpace their revenue declines with cost cuts. While we’re still seeing very weak revenues figures (which is representative of the weak economic landscape) we’re actually seeing some margin stabilization and subsequently better than expected bottom line growth. This chart from JP Morgan shows the trend at hand:
GDP is expected to climb substantially this quarter. We’re also seeing some stabilization in overall economic productivity. Meanwhile, on the cost side we’re continuing to see very low levels of hiring, low labor costs, low business spending and inventories. Revenues are down just 17% for the overall S&P 500 on a year over year basis, but as you can see in the following two charts spending and inventories have nosedived:
As JP Morgan notes, there is no evidence that this is sustainable or positive for the markets in the long-term though:
Corporate defense of profits and financial standing, that is continuing in the current quarter, is apparently being rewarded in the credit markets. Corporate spreads over Treasuries and corporate bond yields have continued to decline in the past several weeks even as other longer-term market interest rates were rising.
The implications of corporate financial performance for economic growth over the coming year is uncertain. Business will emerge from recession in better financial health than compared to exits from past recessions, and with internal funds running well above capital spending. These conditions might argue for a relatively robust corporate expansion.
But for this to happen, the extreme caution that produced these financial results has to change. And there is no
While most pundits are still grasping at anecdotal “green shoots” to celebrate the beginning of a “recovery,” the hard data just released by the Federal Reserve reveals a continuing collapse of unprecedented dimensions.
First and foremost, the Fed’s numbers demonstrate, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the credit market meltdown, which struck with full force after the Lehman Brothers failure last September, actually got a lot worse in the first quarter of this year.
click on chart for sharper image
Open Market Paper: Instead of growing as it had in almost every prior quarter in history, it collapsed at the annual rate of $662.5 billion. (See line 2.)
Banks lending: Credit markets [collapsed] at the astonishing pace of $856.4 billion per year, their biggest cutback of all time (line 7).
Nonbank lending: (line 8 ) pulled out at the annual rate of $468 billion, also the worst on record.
Mortgage lenders: (line 9) pulled out for a third straight month. (Their worst on record was in the prior quarter.)
Consumers: (line 10) were shoved out of the market for credit at the annual pace of $90.7 billion, the worst on record.
The ONLY major player still borrowing money in big amounts was the United States Treasury Department (line 3), sopping up $1,442.8 billion of the credit available — and leaving LESS than nothing for the private sector as a whole.
Bottom line: The first quarter brought the greatest credit collapse of all time.
Excluding public sector borrowing (by the Treasury, government agencies, states, and municipalities), private sector credit was reduced at a mindboggling pace of $1,851.2 billion per year!
And even if you include all the government borrowing, the overall
Total Industry Charts (US, Canada and Mexico)
Year over Year Percent Change – 13 Week Rolling Averages
click on chart for sharper image
13-week moving averages are still moving lower, with no apparent end in sight. The first chart shows the one relatively bright spot is coal. I hear the same message about coal from trucker friends.
I travel a number of routes regularly with my job and one site I pass amazes me. It is a local trucking company property. In early summer 2008 there were maybe 100 total trucks and trailers. Today, there is not much room left in a 12 acre area with 100s for trucks and trailers can not guess the number of trailers stacked 3 to 4 high.
I had heard through a trailer dealer that this trucking company solely purchased equipment to move wind energy projects for a number of years and this year canceled all equipment orders.
I also pass by a switchyard for a BNSF line between Seattle and Chicago once a month. The switchyard is a transfer point for the main line to a local. Freight would wait until there was an opening on the local line or an available engine. Prior to July/August 2008 the yard would have various car carriers, containers and other freight along side the coal cars destined for the power plants. Today only the coal cars are parked there. There is no waiting, except for coal.
Truckers larger and small will need to keep their belts tightened into the early part of next year before they can expect to see freight volumes start increasing, according to the latest industry analysis compiled by FTR Associates.
In a conference call with reporters last week, FTR analysts noted that for freight to start recovering, it must "reach a bottom first" and they predicted the bottom will be reached in the third to fourth quarter of this year. That will lead to a recovery in freight volume to begin sometime in the first quarter of 2010.
Depending upon your philosophical bent, this is either good news or another sign that the Apocalypse is near.
The WSJ is reporting that Toyota is slated to take over the title as the number 1 seller of light vehicles in the U.S.
The bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler are changing the landscape of the auto industry. The two U.S. companies are shuttering plants, shedding dealers and reducing their product lines.
As a result, Toyota Motor will become the largest seller of light vehicles in the U.S. It has held the top spot globally since last year.
The Japanese auto maker won’t be the only beneficiary of the two companies’ woes. But in terms of status, market clout and bragging rights, Toyota will be the No. 1 winner.
Its share of the North American light-truck and car market probably will rise to around 20% from 18.4%. GM will end up in second place with 13% to 16% — with Ford hot on its tail.
Although Toyota stock doesn’t change hands directly in the U.S., the company’s American depositary shares (TM), which represent them, are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
And, at a recent price of around $76 — about $30 below their 52-week high — they’re a good bet for long-term investors.
The Journal suggests that the stock might be a good long-term buy. They point out that analysts suggest it could hit $115 and that it hit $137 a couple of years ago. Maybe, but just a caveat. Toyota and others now have the most fearsome of competitors – government owned companies. In the long run that probably means success for the competitors as political decisions trump business common sense. In the short run it could be formidable as the government does whatever is necessary to prove it didn’t make the stupid decision that everyone acknowledges it did.
Not one macroeconomist acknowledges what I believe to be the true cause of the current collapse of effective demand, the extreme skewness of the income distribution and the attendant indebtedness and inability to spend at previous levels of the bottom half or better of the household income distribution. My reference rant on this subject is here. [Read the rant too, it's a good one. - Ilene]
The macroeconomists keep talking about “monetary stimulus” and “fiscal stimulus” as if they’re talking about stepping on the accelerator of a gasoline internal combustion engine. Except that the engine is running on one cylinder, and if they “prime” the engine, all the gasoline is only going to fire on one cylinder, the one that’s getting the gas—in terms of this metaphor, the rich folks at the top of the currently neo-feudal pecking order.
The fiscal and monetary stimuli of the Great Depression failed to make the income distribution more equal, and failed to reduce unemployment to reasonable levels. Most households weren’t participating in the flow of income to a sufficient degree for that to happen.
It’s time for the policymakers to realize that the economy is in the middle of a vast transition from a debt-financed consumption-heavy economy to one that is higher saving and more investment oriented. That’s a big change, one that will take years. Businesses aren’t going to want to invest in capital formation for consumer markets when they won’t know what the prospective returns are until we burn off some of our excess capacity and consumption patterns stabilize, in sum and in composition, in some new configuration.
It took World War II to equalize the American income distribution last time, a frightening thought. I have no idea what it will take this time.
The best macroeconomic policy right now, and the only one we can afford, is to provide honorable workfare to the growing ranks of the unemployed—in part so that they do not become radicalized and alienated from America—and health benefits so that we don’t compound the losses of the current slump with avoidable sickness.
Macroeconomics in toto—the academic work plus the way it has entered policy—is
Another post published today at the Prudent Investor Newsletters blog, "Chart: Global Food Price Inflation," points to a report in The Economist that might help explain the sense of urgency driving at least some of those efforts.
Inflation’s impact is always relative. And it can be seen in food prices across different nations.
"Changes in global food prices are affecting some countries much more than others. Despite a big fall from peaks in 2008, food-price inflation remains high in places such as Kenya and Russia. In China, however, falling international commodity prices have been passed on to consumers faster. The price of food, as measured by its component in China’s consumer-price index, rose by more than 20% in 2007 but fell by 1.9% in 2008 and by a further 1.3% in the past three months alone."
Of course, there are also many factors that gives rise to these disparities, aside from monetary and fiscal policies (taxes, tariffs, subsidies, etc…), there are considerations of the conditions of infrastructure, capital structure, logistics/distribution, markets, arable lands, water, soil fertility, technology, productivity, economic structure and etc.
Our concern is given the present "benign state of inflation", some developing countries have already been experiencing high food prices, what more if inflation gets a deeper traction globally? Could this be an ominous sign of food crisis perhaps?
Most financial experts are aware that the only reason the economy has not yet collapsed entirely, is due to the trillions in governmental safeguards and industrial subsidies. Zero Hedge has written extensively on the topic, and it is nowhere more obvious than here, that virtually the entire financial system is backstopped by explicit and implicit guarantees. And in true pro-cyclical fashion, the expectation for permanent governmental crutches can be best seen in some of the same metrics that in the post-Lehman days markedly went off the charts, most notably the LIBOR rate. From record wides several months ago, LIBOR, which is critical as it is the reference risk rate for trillions in assorted product classes, has collapsed to an unprecedented low. The rate drop has manifested in an inversion of the 1 Yr UST – 1 Yr LIBOR spread, with the latter clearing 100 bps inside of the former: a topic covered in detail previously by reader Gary Jefferey.
James Bianco of Arbor Research has some interesting comments, discussing the immediate future of LIBOR as a true predictor of the interbank lending market, especially in light of the BBA’s decision to expand the 16 bank LIBOR reporting syndicate as even it has realized that market participants have lost faith in the impartiality and objectivity of LIBOR. In a nutshell, Bianco notes that LIBOR indications by TARP vs non-TARP bank demonstrates a notable schism in risk perception: it is odd (actually, not that odd) that this has not changed notably since Zero Hedge discussed this topic five months ago.
The British Bankers’ Association said Thursday it has started to allow banks operating outside London to contribute quotes for its unsecured interbank lending rates in a bid to keep its rates as representative of bank borrowing costs as possible…The change in definition will open up the number of banks to include those that are highly active in the London money markets but deal out of their domestic headquarters. This comes at a time when some banks on the contributing panels have merged and some foreign banks have reduced their overseas
Stocks fell as investors reacted negatively to the adoption of the “Volcker rule”, which prohibits banks from proprietary trading.
The major stock indices took hard falls on Wednesday, as investors pondered the future of a stock market without proprietary trading by banks. Most stocks were in the red on Wednesday, after the Federal Reserve and four financial regulatory agencies adopted the so-called “Volcker rule”, named after former Fed Chair, Paul Volcker.
Although Volcker was not personally involved in writing the 71-page document, it resulted from Volcker’s insistence that the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act should include prohibitions on proprietary trading by banks, to prevent those institutions from taking on ex...
US stock indexes nosedived today, with the benchmark S&P 500 losing 1.13%. The index hit its intraday high, up 0.02%, five minutes into the session and then cascaded to a mid-day trading range, down about half a percent, that held until shortly before the final hour. It then continued the slide to its worst percentage loss since the 1.32% selloff on November 11th.
The popular financial press attributes today's selling to the news of a budget deal in congress, e.g., the CNBC spin: "the provisional budget deal in Washington raised speculation that the Federal Reserve could pull back on its stimulus program soon."
Lest today's slump seem overly gloomy, note that the 1.32% decline on November 7th was followed by a 1.34% gain the following day.
For the last year or two, European banks have engaged in the ultimate of self-referential M.A.D. trades - buying the sovereign debt of their own nation in inordinate size to maintain the ECB's illusion of control (even as their economies collapse and stagnate) while referentially obtaining the funding for said purchase from the ECB by repoing the purchase back to the central bank, usually with no haircut to mention. Today though, as The FT reports, a top official at the ...
SHLD – Sears Holdings Corp. – Options volume on Sears today rose well above the average daily level for the stock during morning trading, with the bulk of the activity concentrated in far out of the money Jan 2014 expiry puts. Overall volume on the stock is approaching 30,000 contracts just before midday in New York, roughly 155% of SHLD’s average daily options volume of around 18,000 contracts. Shares in Sears are off 0.70% at $46.54 at present, off earlier session lows that saw the stock touch down to $45.98, the lowest level since September 5th.
Alan Blinder, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, is back at it.
In an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal Blinders says "Don't only drop the interest rate paid on banks' excess reserves, charge them."
Please consider The Fed Plan to Revive High-Powered Money. Unless you are part of the tiny portion of humanity that dotes on every utterance of the Federal Open Market Committee, you probably missed an important statement regarding the arcane world of "excess reserves" buried deep in the minutes of its Oct. 29-30 policy meeting. It reads: "[M]ost participants thought that a reduction by the Board of Governors in the interest rate paid on excess reserves could be worth ...
Today, with very little market moving news, the S&P 500 closed at 1808.4, yet another new closing daily high. The index did touch the 1811 area on at least three distinctly different time slots creating a new resistance level. But after last week’s bevy of positive economic surprises, the sharp gain of 1.1% on Friday, leaving the index just a tiny point away from its ninth consecutive up week, we can’t be too quick to suggest today was a topping rally. For one thing, volume was quite low as traders seemed to be trying to sort out the odds on the earliest date of Fed tapering. Estimates range from this month to March and even later. But it’s going to happen…so why so much emphasis on when? Perhaps protection of end-of-the-year profits in so many fund managers portfolios? ...
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These rallies are becoming familiar. In early July we saw a streak of 12 of 13 sessions in a row up, early September 11 of 12, and mid October 11 of 13 (current streak). It is a bit uncanny the similarities and how the escalator goes straight up in vertical ascent as we see indexes come out of mini corrections during QE. So we are about at the same stage where the last two began to tire, so it will be interesting if this is similar or if the current consensus of the market that there is nothing to worry about until next year as the Fed and D.C. are both off the table and this 3% annual growth rate in earnings we are now seeing in the S...
Welcome to the fouth update of the IRA Virtual Portfolio. First I am going to summarize the current state of the Portfolio then I will get into all the activity we had during September expiration.
Profit and Loss – Net of closed positions the portfolio is up a total of $769
Market Commentary – Last expiration I said, "I would like to put a total of $20,000 to work by the end of SEP expiration. If the VIX pops up to around 20 I plan to put about $50,000 total to work." The market didn't quite reach the goal but I did manage to deploy $15,000 of buying power. I still feel the market is too high and expect a correction during October. If the vix pops up to around 20 I still plan to put about $50,000 to work. If a correction doesn't happen I still plan to have a total of $25,000 in buying power put to work by October expiration. Now on to the act...
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Come and get it! Read all about it! Biotechs, biotechs and more biotechs to buy buy buy for your portfolio! To date, almost 30 biotech companies have hit the market. Most of the time, there are fewer than 10-12!
For the last five years, biotechs have had issues obtaining offer prices above expectations. In 2013, that trend looks to be broken. According to BiotechNow, the offer prices are 4% above expectations! In addition, biotechs are going public with little more than a wing and a prayer (pre-clinical or Phase 1 data only). Really? What this means is that the drug or technology looks good in mice, rats, or dogs, etc, but there is no smidgen of evidence that it will work in humans. That's what is called an appitite for RISK!
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